5 Ways to Improve the Unsubscribe Process by Georgia Christian @mailblaze

5 Ways to Improve the Unsubscribe Process by Georgia Christian @mailblaze

You’ve worked hard at encouraging people to sign up to your newsletters and it can take a long time to build up a valuable database of targeted email addresses, so when unsubscribe requests come through, it’s natural to be disheartened and wonder what went wrong.

The fact is there could be any number of reasons why someone might choose to opt-out of your newsletter, such as:

  • Changed interests/preferences/financial situation
  • They only registered because of the competition/special offer and aren’t actually interested in what you have to offer (ouch, but it happens all the time)
  • Emailing too frequently
  • Emails are irrelevant and untargeted
  • They’re finding better deals elsewhere

While there is a lot you can do to re-engage with your subscribers and win them back, if someone is still certain they don’t want to receive your emails anymore then honour their request, and do it respectively, allowing them to make a graceful exit. Until then, here’s what you can do to help improve the unsubscribe process.

1. Remove subscribers from your list as soon as you receive their request

CAN SPAM laws state that you have 10 days in which to honour an unsubscribe request but the general public (and your subscriber) probably don’t know about this law, so put yourself in their shoes for a second. Can you imagine how you’d feel if you take the time to unsubscribe from something and yet continue to receive email messages from that company for another 10 days? It won’t do anything to endear you to them, honestly. If you really don’t want to delete the address then at the least move it to a separate inactive/suppression folder.

2. Allow them the opportunity to reduce their subscription first

If you’re emailing your subscriber every day then there is a good chance that they’ll get irritated and want to unsubscribe (unless it’s a fab daily deals site or something like that). So as to avoid any further frustration on their side, you need to keep this process simple and fast. At this stage, besides the straightforward unsubscribe link, offer them the opportunity to rather reduce their subscription first, say from once a day to once a week/bi-weekly/monthly/quarterly depending on what’s relevant to your product or service. This option has shown high conversion rates because while your subscribers enjoy your emails, they don’t necessarily want to hear from you every day. If they are able to control when they hear from you, it keeps them satisfied and you get to keep them on your email database.

3. They might still decide to opt out completely

Try not to take it too personally, respect their decision and make it easy for them to do this. What you might want to do though, is insert a comment box on the unsubscribe page asking them to give you quick feedback regarding the reason for them opting out and what they would like to see more or less of. The responses may well be negative, but take the information as constructive criticism and use it to optimize your newsletter and customer approach.

4. Are you giving them what they want?

One of the main reasons people unsubscribe is because of irrelevant or boring email content. When they first sign up, find out what they are interested in and what they would like to see in your emails, so that you know what you need to do to deliver content that produces good open rates and conversions. Make sure you’re also following your customers and target audience on various social network platforms and monitor what they’re praising and complaining about and what’s trending right now. This way you can incorporate it into your newsletter, ensuring that they remain useful, relevant, interesting and up to date.

5. Are you sure your emails are rendering correctly?

If you’ve noticed a significant number of people unsubscribing around the same time, then there is a chance that it could be because your email messages aren’t rendering correctly. As you know, when this happens it leaves them unaligned, difficult to read, links broken and images blocked and not many people will take the time to unblock them or try to open the message in a different browser unless it’s really important. This is why it’s vital that you test (and then double and triple test) your messages across all necessary browsers (and major mobile devices for that matter) to make sure they look great and render correctly in all of them. Sure it takes time, but if you want to see results then this is what you need to be doing, on a constant basis.


At the end of the day, these are just a few of the things that you can do to help improve the unsubscribe process. Bear in mind that it is normal to lose (and gain) a certain percentage of subscribers every year, so do what you can to keep your readers interested, happy and subscribed, and don’t cry too much over spilt milk (the ones that get away).

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  1. snaket jain April 26, 2011
  2. snaket jain April 26, 2011
  3. Georgia Christian April 28, 2011
  4. Georgia Christian April 28, 2011

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